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Archive for the ‘WonderCon’ Category

The Selection Collage

Last month at WonderCon 2014, New York Times best-selling author Kiera Cass – the woman behind “The Selection” book trilogy – took to the stage to talk to folks about her experience as a writer and her successful book series.

With her editor Erica Sussman from HarperCollins alongside her, Kiera talked about the anticipation of the final book in the trilogy – “The One” – that would be released two weeks after the last day of WonderCon 2014. She joked that she was “super nervous” about book three coming out and shared that “she might hide from Twitter that day” just in case.

The first book in the trilogy “The Selection” came out on April 24, 2012 and focused on a futuristic world that Kiera described as “The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor, but not as bloody”. She shared that the trilogy is a love story at heart; and during the process of writing the books she “was surprised by how forceful the characters were” as they would “tell me what to say”.

The basic premise of the trilogy focuses on 35 girls who are given the chance of a lifetime. They are given the opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth: to live in a palace and compete for the heart the prince of Illea, Maxon Schreave. Among those 35 girls is America Singer, who is not happy to be one of the chosen, as it means she has to turn her back on her secret love with Aspen.

When asked if she is at all like America, Kiera shared that she is actually more like America’s younger sister May, who is “boy crazy and a bit of a fan girl” especially where Prince Maxon is concerned. When asked if she herself could choose between Prince Maxon and Aspen, Kiera could not, but she did share that both characters have features of her own husband Calloway Cass. She also shared that the character of America wasn’t really based on any particular person, she “just showed up in my head”.

Kiera loves fairy tales and love stories and those were the genesis of “The Selection” trilogy; in fact she shared during the panel that she didn’t know about the world of “dystopian stories” when writing her books. And with the final book The Elite now out on bookshelves, she shared that she “wouldn’t count it out” if there were spin-off stories about some of the minor characters in the trilogy. She couldn’t, however, delve too deeply into what she has planned next despite the fact that “she hates keeping secrets”, but there are “things in the works” that she could not yet discuss.

The second book in the trilogy entitled “The Elite” came out on April 23, 2013 and the 35 girls have now been dwindled down to just six girls, all competing for the heart of Prince Maxon with America needing to decide where her heart truly lies. And the final book “The One” has been out since May 6 with the focus being on the winner of the competition for Prince Maxon’s heart being chosen and America having to make a decision, too, between the two men in her life.

Personally, I read the first book in the trilogy, finding it to be an entertaining read and I look forward to reading the rest of the books soon. Readers can also check out the novellas for which Kiera has written in relation to “The Selection” trilogy including “The Prince” and “The Guard”.

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WonderCon 2013

This past weekend I headed to Anaheim once again for WonderCon 2014, joining thousands of other pop culture fans not only in the trek there but also in the madness and the mayhem that is the annual event.

Captain Mal NEW

The first day of the convention started out like any other, driving to Anaheim, getting checked into the hotel and picking up my 3-day press badge. I had a limited amount of time to walk around the exhibition hall before heading off to my first panel of the day, which was for the cast of The CW series Star-Crossed.

The rest of my Friday was spent going to panels entitled “The Writer’s Journey”, “Creating Scripted TV” – where I got to interview composer Tim Jones (Chuck) and writer Keto Shimizu (Arrow) – and a panel about an upcoming web series called Nobility.

Saturday was a very busy day with lots of panels to attend, including Falling Skies, The 100, Once Upon a Time, the new TNT dramas Legends and The Last Ship as well as panels for TV Guide’s Fan Favorite Showrunners and an “Inside the Writer’s Room” panel.

Tardis NEW

During those panels we got to see clips of the season premiere of Falling Skies, the opening scene of Wednesday night’s episode of The 100, the full Sunday night episode of Once Upon a Time, clips of the debut episode of Legends and the debut episode of The Last Ship. Needless to say, it was a lot to take in, but great fun too. The night came to a close with a special screening of the second season premiere of the acclaimed BBC America series Orphan Black!

As for Sunday, the final day of the convention, it was lighter day at least for me. I attended a spotlight panel on author Kiera Cass, the writer of the trilogy books: “The Selection”, “The Elite” and “The One”. That was followed up the “Guide to Summer Movies” panel and capped with a panel about “Creating Awesome Female Characters”.

Before heading home, I took a little extra time to make the rounds in the exhibition hall, taking in the crazy sights that are always on display.

I will be posting articles about several of the smaller panels for which I mentioned above here at Rueben’s Ramblings as soon as possible and please visit The Fairy Tale Site, NiceGirlsTV and TV Equals to read my coverage of the TV show related panels.

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Dean Norris and Rachelle LeFevre (Photo by Rueben)

Dean Norris and Rachelle LeFevre (Photo by Rueben)

Back in March, a few cast members and some of the main crew of the new CBS summer mini-series Under the Dome paid a visit to WonderCon 2013 to talk about the much-anticipated adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Included in the panel were cast members Rachelle LeFevre (the Twilight franchise) and Dean Norris (Breaking Bad) and Executive Producers Neal Baer and Jack Bender as well as Producer/Writer Brian K. Vaughan.

Given that the book is over 1000 pages long, the task to be handled by writer Brian was to take what took place in a few days within the pages of that tome, stretching it out into 13-episodes. In fact, author Stephen King “has been very generous” telling Brian to “use the book as a starting point” and with that directive, Brian “pulled the book apart pound by pound”.

Let’s take a quick look at what the series itself is about. Under the Dome will tell the story of the residents of the small town of Chester’s Mill, Maine, who suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier that surrounds the town. As the town begins to tear itself apart through panic, a small group of people attempt to maintain peace and order while also trying to uncover the truth behind the barrier and how to escape from it.

Dean Norris, Rachelle LeFevre, Neal Baer, Jack Bender and Brian K. Vaughan

Dean Norris, Rachelle LeFevre, Neal Baer, Jack Bender and Brian K. Vaughan (Photo by Rueben

Now, with that explanation the conversation then moved over to the cast, speaking about how they, personally, would handle this kind of scary predicament. Rachelle shared that she asked herself a number of questions, including “Who would I really be?” “What would I do?” and “How would I handle things?” She continued that her role of Julia Shumway, an investigative reporter, is “the living embodiment of all those questions (and more)”.

Dean, on the other hand, joked that “one thing you need under a dome is a bad guy” and his character – James “Big Jim” Rennie, local politician and owner of the local used car lot, is just that bad guy who will “become a bit of a dictator”. That being said, though, Dean briefly talked about the transition from playing a good guy in Breaking Bad to being the bad guy in Under the Dome, sharing that he “doesn’t think (of Jim as being) bad, he just makes bad decisions”.

Brian, Neal and Jack then talked about how the summer episodes will be divided into “the 3 F’s”: Faith, Fascism and Fear; and it will definitely be interesting to see how those three F’s play out over the hottest months of the year. One this is for sure, the crew “knows how it will all end” but they also have “the freedom to change things as they go along”. But fans of the novel should know that the ending in the book will not be the ending in the series.

To find out for yourself about Under the Dome, make sure to tune into CBS on Monday, June 24 at 10 PM to see how this “environmental parable” will play out.

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Much Ado About Nothing

Back in March, a number of members of the cast of the upcoming box office film Much Ado About Nothing as well as writer, producer and director Joss Whedon made an appearance at this year’s Wonder Con held in Anaheim, California.

The participants in the panel included cast members Clark Gregg (The Avengers), Sean Maher (Firefly), Tom Lenk (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Romy Rosemont (Glee), Riki Lindhome (Million Dollar Baby), Spencer Treat Clark (The Last House on the Left) and newcomers Jillian Morgese, Nick Kocher and Brian McElhaney as well as Whedon and cinematographer Jay Hunter.

Much Ado About Nothing, of course, is based on the legendary comedic play written by William Shakespeare that chronicles two pairs of lovers: Benedick and Beatrice (the main couple) and Claudio and Hero (the secondary couple).

In the Whedon version, the play is set in modern times but filmed in black and white using the original play as dialogue. The movie was filmed at Whedon’s home in Los Angeles over the course of 12 days in mid-October of 2011 on an extremely small budget.

Missing from the panel that day were lead actors Amy Acker (Angel and Person of Interest), who plays Beatrice and Alexis Denisof (Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel), who plays Benedick as well as Fran Kranz (Dollhouse), who plays Claudio, Nathan Fillion (Firefly and Castle), who plays Dogberry and Reed Diamond (Franklin & Bash), who plays Don Pedro.

During the panel, the audience was treated to three different scenes from the film with Whedon talking about what made him do the project, sharing that “everything (was) in place (and I) understood the characters and (I) had to do it” while each of the cast members talked about getting the call from Whedon regarding the project and the characters each of them played. Whedon also shared that he “would like to take this complete cast and do something new and very different” in the future.

A few behind the scenes details that the cast provided were that they would get eight pages of the script done each day, that some of the cast needed help translating what they were filming (after all Shakespeare isn’t the easiest to understand), that, ironically, Whedon had done some test reading about 10 years ago and that the cast took a 30-hour bus ride together to go to South by Southwest in Austin, Texas.

Much Ado About Nothing will open in theatres on Friday, June 7. You can check out the trailer for the film right here.

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Jason Palmer's Self-Portrait

Jason Palmer’s Self-Portrait

On Easter weekend, while attending WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim, I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel spotlighting one of my favorite artists: Jason Palmer

During this one-hour panel Jason took the stage, sharing his back-story of growing up in California as an only child and revealing that he drew all the time with whatever he could find at hand. But, since that was during the days before the internet, he didn’t know anyone who was an artist, let alone knowing which way to go with his art.

After high school, he did odd jobs – including desk jobs – that eventually lead to him becoming a technical advisor for an electric company. In this job, he spent a lot of time talking to clients on the phone, and he would doodle on the desk pad on his desk throughout many of these conversations.

On one particular day, the President of the company called Jason into his office, asking why he was doodling all over the desk pad – thinking that Jason wasn’t doing the job for which he was hired. Jason explained that he was doing his job but also doodling while explaining out tech-speak to clients. He was instructed to discontinue his doodling and, as you can imagine, not that much later, he decided to give his notice with that employer; setting on the path of actually doing something more with his drawing.

He, in turn, got a job at a Hollywood art store, started taking college classes to hone his skill and, on somewhat of a lark he contacted his favorite artist, asking for advice. Now while in hindsight Jason freely admits this was probably not the best idea, this artist was kind enough to take time out of his own busy schedule to spend the day with Jason.

After getting some very sage advice from this artist, Jason was encouraged to come back “when he was better” and he felt an obligation to do the best he could from there on out; making himself a bit of a perfectionist in the process.

From that point on, he made several more return visit to the artist’s home; always coming away with more good advice. Gradually Jason began to meet other artists and started to create a “family” out of that.

It was 25 years ago that Jason attended his very first Comic Con, meeting many of his heroes – some who were really nice and others (who he of course did not name) that were less than pleasant. As the years past, though, he began to become discouraged. That all changed in 2003 when he meet Yelena (who has been his wife for the past 10 years). It was Yelena who became his strongest supporter, convincing to approach other artists at conventions and helped turn him around. He eventually got a table in artist’s alley and then one day he had a chance meeting with actor Nathan Fillion (of Firefly and Castle fame), who saw Jason’s artwork for the show.

As Jason explained it, there was a release party for the Firefly DVD and he did “a little piece for it” that was eventually seen by series creator Joss Whedon, who asked to meet Jason. During that meeting Joss unabashedly told him that Jason’s little piece was “the biggest compliment” he had ever gotten for the show. That quickly led to Jason being asked by Joss to do a full painting and from there he was asked to do more paintings for the show. Not that long later, of course, the rapid Browncoats (the very dedicated fans of Firefly) embrace Jason’s artwork, and his career really started to take off.

As time went on, he started to get more and more commercial work and last year he worked with HBO and Lucas Films on some big projects. But with that bigger and bigger commercial comes the challenge of meeting their requirements and being somewhat stifled by their restrictions. It is Jason’s goal now to do more of what the fans of his work want, what they request when he sees them in person. He does also do commission work, but – obviously – his wait list is quite long, but Jason does his best to complete the commissions as quickly as possible

To see just a small sample of Jason Palmer’s artwork and get more details about his studio, make sure to visit his official website here.

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So the second day of WonderCon 2013 was pretty busy with plenty of panels to attend. I was able to take in the following panels on Saturday:

Living the Vikings – A salute to the ongoing History Channel mini-series that featured cast members Travis Fimmel, Katheryn Winnick and George Blagden;

Falling Skies – A panel covering the upcoming season three of the TNT alien invasion series that saw cast members Drew Roy, Sarah Carter and Seychelle Gabriel take the stage along with series executive producer Remi Aubuchon;

TV Guide Magazine’s Salute to Fan Favorite Showrunners – This panel saw the likes of Julie Plec (The Vampire Diaries), Steven Molaro (The Big Bang Theory), Glen Mazarra (The Walking Dead), Remi Aubuchon (Falling Skies), Jeff Davis (Teen Wolf) and Greg Plageman (Person of Interest) all hit the stage to talk about their shows;

Spotlight on Jason Palmer – The renowned artist was given a special salute where he talked about how he got into drawing, ending up as a licensed artist for the likes of Firefly, Serenity, Star Wars and Castle; and,

Under the Dome – A sneak peek at the upcoming CBS summer series based on the Stephen King novel of the same day that included appearances by cast members Rachelle Lefevre and Dean Norris.

Then, earlier today I had the chance to attend panels for the upcoming Joss Whedon film Much Ado About Nothing that will feature among its cast actors like Clark Gregg, Reed Diamond, Alexis Denisof, Amy Acker, Nathan Fillion, Sean Maher, Tom Lenk and Fran Kranz (among many others) as well as a panel for the hit CW series Arrow that saw Stephen Amell, Paul Blackthore, Willa Holland and Colin Donnell on stage with executive producer Marc Guggenheim.

All in all it was yet another great convention; and I will be providing further coverage soon both here and at NiceGirlsTV. I hope you will all stop by to read the articles when they are posted.

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Yesterday was the first day of WonderCon 2013 and the day went pretty well, all things considered. I arrived at the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim around 10 AM; being able to get checked into my hotel room early, then heading over to the convention center for registration.

That process was pretty painless (thank God!) and I entered the exhibit hall shortly after the doors opened, getting to “hit” up my favorite photograph vendors and coming away with over a dozen new pictures to add to my burgeoning collection as well as buying a new Castle-themed t-shirt and a Firefly-themed hoodie from my favorite artist, the one and only Jason Palmer.

Later that day I had the chance to sit in on the Beauty And the Beast panel, featuring series lead Kristin Kreuk and executive producer Kelly Souders. That panel started out with a special screening of half of the next new episode of the series that is set to air on April 18 (the series is currently on a three-week break). All I can say is that it is a heart-pumping episode that no viewer will want to miss; and the panel – while a bit short because of the tight scheduling inherent with the convention – was filled with what the ladies could share about the show and some behind the scenes tidbits.

The night finished off with a two-hour screening event of the return episode of the current season of Doctor Who, which features series lead Matt Smith and the Doctor’s new companion Clara, as played by actress Jenna-Louise Coleman as well as the debut episode of the new BBC America series Orphan Black.

While we were asked not to reveal too much about either episode since they will both air tonight, the new Doctor Who episode received nearly a full-room standing ovation while most of the audience who remained for the late-night screening of Orphan Black were clamoring for more.

All in all it was a great start to this year’s fete and there will be even more coming today, including panels for the A&E mini-series Vikings, the popular alien invasion TNT series Falling Skies, a salute to the NBC series Revolution, an advanced look at this summer’s CBS series Under the Dome (based on the Stephen King novel), a TV Guide salute to Fan Favorite Showrunners, a spotlight on artist Jason Palmer and much, much more.

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